For those of us that live in countries that allow for relatively unlimited freedom of speech and expression, it is easy to forget about the limitations that other countries have. When it comes to what is posted on the internet, there are several countries that have restrictions. The Chinese government for example, is notorious for their free speech boundaries, especially as it pertains to the web.
As the world has witnessed in the recent past, the internet has been a mobilizing force for citizens of many nations that are frustrated with their government’s lack of effectiveness, decency and humanity. The countries that have seen the most recent uprisings have been in the Middle East and North Africa.
While the protests in these countries continued, countries like China began to increase their restrictive internet content policies. Based on their proximity alone, it is no surprise that India has also ramped up their effort to squelch any political animosity that could spread like a wild fire online.
In early April, India’s Department of Information Technology began to implement new rules of engagement for internet content. Any content that is considered to be questionable by citizens or government officials is at risk for removal. If someone finds that any published online statements or images are a threat to the security, unity and sovereignty of India, the applicable service provider and web site may be asked to take down the content.
Being asked is more like being told actually. Sites that host but do not produce content are required to remove the objectionable content within three days of the request. Many websites have already been banned and social networking sites, like Facebook, are constantly monitored in an effort to minimize the people’s freedom of speech and expression.
Although only about 10 percent of Indians have internet access, the number is increasing on a daily bases. Not surprisingly, the number of Indians that have cell phones with internet data plans is overwhelming. Even the poorer citizens of India are gaining access to the online world, something that scares government officials that don’t want to see an uprising that is supported by all kinds of citizens including the wealthy, poor, educated and uneducated.
I think that it silly for countries to try and circumvent the inevitable. Everyone has a voice and wants to be able to use it. There is too much globalization in the world to stop people from adopting the foundations and ideals of other nations. It is just ridiculous to think that blocking the internet will prevent the people from raising their voices. Eventually, the younger generation will become frustrated to the point where they just can’t take it anymore.